Johannesburg: Paraguayan forward Oscar “Tacuara” Cardozo has recovered from a heel injury and will have a place on the bench for the South Americans’ World Cup opener on Monday.
The 27-year-old hurt his ankle in training two weeks ago and his slow recovery cast a doubt over his chances of making the squad, but coach Gerardo Martino said Cardozo would be among the substitutes for the Group F clash against world champions Italy.
“Cardozo’s going to be on the bench,” Argentine coach Martino told reporters, adding that Edgar Barreto and Rodolfo Gamarra had also shaken off their injuries.
“They’re all in a condition where they could be picked to face Italy,” he said.
Paraguay, who are also accompanied by Slovakia and New Zealand in Group F, take on Italy in Cape Town’s Green Point stadium on Monday at 8.30 p.m. (1830 GMT).
Striker Roque Santa Cruz, 28, embarking on the third World Cup of his career, has recovered from nagging knee problems and could be in the starting line up, depending on the Italians’ strategy.
Argentine-born Lucas Barrios and Nelson Haedo Valdez, team mates at Germany’s Borussia Dortmund, will make the team and could form a three-pronged attack along with Santa Cruz.
Martino has yet to announce Monday’s team but Barrios said he would be playing.
“I had never dreamed that me and him (Haedo Valdez) would have gone on in the World Cup debut,” he said. “At Borussia, I play in the area and he plays down the sides but things might be different here.”